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Christ lag in Todesbanden

Representative Text

1 Christ lag in Todesbanden,
für unsre Sünd gegeben,
der ist wieder erstanden,
und hat uns bracht das Leben:
deß wir sollen fröhlich sein,
Gott loben und ihm dankbar sein
und singen Hallelujah,

2 Den Tod Niemand zwingen konnt
bei allen Menschenkindern:
das machet alles unser Sünd,
kein Unschuld war zu finden.
Davon kam der Tod so bald
und nahm über uns Gewalt,
hielt uns in sein'm Reich gefangen,

3 Jesus Christus Gottessohn,
an unser Statt ist kommen
und hat die Sünde abgethan,
damit dem Tod genommen
all sein Recht und sein Gewalt;
da bleibt nichts denn Tods Gestalt,
den Stachel hat er verloren.

4 Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg,
da Tod und Leben rungen:
das Leben, das behielt den Sieg,
es hat den Tod verschlungen.
Die Schrift hat verkündet das,
wie ein Tod den andern fraß:
ein Spott dem Tod ist worden.

5 Hie ist das rechte Osterlamm,
Davon Gott hat geboten,
das ist hoch an des Kreuzes Stamm
in heißer Lieb gebraten:
deß Blut zeichnet unser Thür,
das hält der Glaub dem Tod für,
der Würger kann uns nicht rühren.

6 So feiern wir das Hochfest
mit Herzen, Freud und Wonne,
das uns der Herr scheinen läßt.
Er selber ist die Sonne,
der durch seiner Gnaden Glanz
erleucht't unsre Herzen ganz:
der Sünden Nacht ist vergangen.

7 Wir essen und leben wohl
in rechten Osterfladen;
der alte Sauerteig nicht soll
sein bei dem Wort der Gnaden.
Christus will die Köste sein,
und speisen die Seel allein:
der Glaub will keins abdern leben.

Source: Evang.-Lutherisches Gesangbuch #186

Author: Martin Luther

Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody. i. Hymn Books. 1. Ellich cristlich lider Lobgesang un Psalm. Wittenberg, 1524. [Hamburg Library.] This contains 8 German h… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Christ lag in Todesbanden
Author: Martin Luther
Place of Origin: Germany
Copyright: Public Domain


Christ lag in Todesbanden. M. Luther. [Easter.] First published in Eyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524, entitled "The hymn, ‘Christ ist erstanden,' improved." Thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 12, in 7 stanzas of 7 lines, and the same in Schircks's ed. of Luther's Geistliche Lieder, 1854, p. 20, and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 127. Only slight traces of the "Christ ist erstanden" (q. v.) are retained in Luther's hymn. Stanzas iv., v., are based on the sequence "Victimau paschali laudes" (q. v.), and one or two expressions may have been suggested by the "Surrexit Christus hodie" (q. v.). These German and Latin hymns, with the Scriptural notices of the Passover Lamb, furnished Luther with the materials of this beautiful poem, but the working out is entirely original, and the result a hymn second only to his unequalled "Ein' feste Burg" (q. v.)
Translations in common use:—
1. Christ in the bands of death was laid, a good translation, omitting stanza vii., by A. T. Russell, as No. 104 in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851.
2. Christ lay awhile in Death's strong bands, a full and good translation by R. Massie in his M. Luther's Spiritual Songs, 1854, p. 16. In full and unaltered as No. 104 in the edition, 1857, of Mercer's Church Psalm & Hymn Book (Ox. ed., 1864, No. 197). Stanzas i., vi., vii. unaltered, with stanzas iv. lines 1-4, and iii. 11. 5-7, united as stanza ii., were included, as No. 129, in Church Hymns , 1871. Stanzas i., iv., vi., vii., altered and beginning "Christ Jesus lay in Death's strong bands," appear as No. 192 in Thring's Collection, 1882.
3. In the bonds of death He lay, Who, a full and good translation, but not in the original metre, by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 1st Series, 1855, p. 87. Slightly altered, and omitting stanza ii., as No. 714 in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1875. In full, but altered, in Schaff’s Christ in Song , 1869, p. 261. The version beginning "In death's strong bands Christ Jesus lay," No. 749 in J. L. Porter's Collection, 1876, is stanzas i., iv., vi., vii., mainly from the Lyra Germanica, but partly from the Chorale Book for England, with two lines from Mr. Massie.
4. Three days in Death's strong grasp He lay, a good translation of stanzas i., iv.-vi., based on Mr. Massie, as No. 87 in Pott's Collection, 1861.
5. In Death's strong grasp the Saviour lay, For our, a good translation, omitting stanzas v., vi., by Miss Winkworth in her Chorale Book for England, 1863.
6. Jesus in bonds of Death had lain, a translation of stanzas i., iv., vi., by Miss Borthwick, contributed as No. 79 to Dr. Pagenstecher's Collection, 1864, and included in her Hymns from the Land of Luther, ed. 1884, p. 259.
7. In Death's strong grasp the Saviour lay, For our offences. Of No. 84 in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880, stanzas i., ii., iii., 11. 1-4 are from Miss Winkworth's translation, and the rest are mainly from Mr. Massie.
Translations not in common use:--
(1) "Christ dyed and suffred great payne,” by Bp. Coverdale, 1539 (Remains, 1846, p. 563). (2) "Christ was to Death abased," by J. C. Jacobi, 1722, p. 21 (1732, p. 38, altered), repeated as No. 225, in pt. i. of tho Moravian Hymn Book, 1754, and continued in later editions, altered, 1789, to "Christ Jesus was to death abas'd." (3) "Once in the bands of death the Saviour lay," by Miss Fry, 1845, p. 65. (4) "The ransom of our souls to pay," by J. Anderson, 1846, p. 14 (1847, p. 39). (5) "Jesus was for sinners slain," by Dr. J. Hunt, 1853, p. 44. (6) "In Death's dark prison Jesus lay," by Dr. H. Mills, 1856, p.211. (7) "Christ, the Lord, in death-bonds lay," by Miss Warner, 1858 (1861, p. 432). (8) "Death held our Lord in prison," by Dr. G. Macdonald in the Sunday Magazine, 1867, p. 331, and altered in his Exotics, 1876. p. 52. (9) "In the bands of Death Christ lay, Prisoner," &c, in S. Garratt's Hymns and Translations, 1867, p. 28. (10) "In the bands of Death He lay, Christ," &c., in the Church of England Magazine, 1872, p. 183. (11) "Christ was laid in Death's strong bands," in Dr. Bacon, 1884, p. 22, based on Mr. Massie. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN is an adaptation of a medieval chant used for "Victimae Paschali laudes" (the same chant is the source for CHRIST IST ERSTANDEN, 407). The tune's arrangement is credited to Johann Walther (b. Kahla, Thuringia, Germany, 1496: d. Torgau, Germany, 1570), in whose 1524 Geystlic…

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The Cyber Hymnal #13480
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The Cyber Hymnal #13480

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